Saturday, March 10, 2007

night mares and charlie horses

this piece represents the time i spent in december and january dealing with a pinched nerve in my back. i continually had charlie horses, running from my waist to my toes on my right side.

the pain was unbearable most times, and there were times i would just lie in bed, curled up in pain, and cry. i couldn't get up on my own, couldn't take care of myself, couldn't sleep without pain. when i couldn't stand it any further, i would ask jerry to take me to the emergency room.

the only thing that helped was a shot of morphine and tordal. the real problem -- these "quick fixes" didn't last even 24 hours. after several trips to the emergency room, they basically told me to learn to deal w/ the pain on my own.

what? i couldn't walk, couldn't stand, couldn't sit, couldn't do anything except lay on my stomach on my bed -- and still hurt. yeah, deal w/ it! i was referred to a pain management specialist, but they couldn't get me in until february.

what??? i couldn't live like this for 2 more months! when we called and asked why it took so long, the reception said, "well, you have to understand that we only do pain here on tuesday and thursday." that was about the most assinine thing i had ever heard, and my response to her was, "well, that won't work, because i'm doing pain 24 hours a day!"

jerry got on the phone and found a pain management specialist in joplin and got an appointment for 3 days later. it didn't take them 5 minutes to diagnose the problem w/o ever looking at the mri report. they scheduled me an appointment for 2 days later to come back and have steriod shots into the spine.

the idea that i had to go back home (an hour in the car where every bump, curve, swerve, or stop was extremely painful) was almost more than i could take. by the time we got there, i was in such pain that i was just curled up and crying.

it was a scary thought, but the pain was just unbearable and i had no life at the time -- so we went w/ it. i went in for the first shot, watched the people before me go in, be gone about 20 minutes, and then walk back out. i warned the doctor and nurses ahead of time that i had a tendency to vasel-vagel (which is the fancy term for fainting or passing out), but they seemed unconcerned.

so i'm lying there on the table on my stomach, talking about this and that w/ the nurses and doctor. they were quite amused and shocked at the tattoo on my backside -- definitely something to talk about. they wanted to hear the story behind it and all, so that took up some time and got some good laughs.

there was a machine right over my back so the doctor can see the individual nerves to make sure he gets the shot exactly where it goes. first there was a little pressure and then the shot. it felt like there was a guitar string that ran from my waist to my toes, and he just twanged it hard enough to reach my knee. i let out a yelp and he asked where it hurt. i told him, and he said, "that's good. that means i have the right nerve." then he moved the needle to another near spot or something, but the guitar string twang went all the way to my toes.

oh man, that was painful! i was starting to feel really hot in that room (first sign that fainting is possible). the procedure was done and i was lying there a few minutes while they took blood pressure and checked things. then the nurse asked me to start to stand up by just putting my legs over the side of the bed and touching them to the floor.

i knew i was going down, so i said, "can i just lay here a minute?" at this point, it's usually the imagination that makes things worse. i was picturing what i had felt, what it must have done, whether it had helped, what if my life continued on as it had, etc. it was getting really, really hot in the room now. the doctor had already left the room to move on to the next patient since my procedure was over.

the nurse gave me a bit (felt like about 20 seconds to me!), and then said, "can you try standing up now?" i told her that i needed to just lay there a bit more. we went through this routine a couple more times before i tried to stand up, knowing that this wasn't going to work out very well.

i put my feet on the floor, as instructed, and kept my upper body on the bed. i stood in that position a few seconds and then looked across the bed at the nurse standing there and said, "i'm going to pass out now." i knew it for sure when the edges of my vision started to turn gray and the gray started quickly progressing toward the center.

at that point, they called some sort of code and people came running from everywhere. jerry, seated in the hallway, knew something was wrong, and it had to be w/ me because i was the only one back there! one of the nurses got a wheelchair under me just in time to sit me down as i passed out.

the most horrible thing about passing out like this is that when i wake up, i have a roaring sound in my head (worse if i have hit the floor!) and then there are usually a bunch of people in my face. i assured them all when i awoke that i was fine, but the charge nurse wanted to send me to the emergency room.

the doctor disregarded her suggestion and sent me to the recovery room. other people were there as they got out of knee surgery, shoulder surgery, etc -- and i'm there for fainting! not exactly something to brag about!!!

by this time, jerry is right there next to me and my mother has shown up at the hospital. i was fine and i felt fine, except really tired feeling -- typical from having the quick drop in blood pressure that allows the fainting. of course, my mother is worried that i'm in the recovery room instead of walking out on my own after the shot, but what can i say -- she's a mom!

the doctor decided that i needed a shot of something to up my blood pressure and speed up my heart rate -- so i got that shot. after being "monitored" for the next hour by a nurse that was totally pissed that the doctor didn't send me to the ER, i was allowed to leave for home.

as i got up to walk to the car, i was still sore from the charlie horses in my leg -- but i didn't have the pain that i had been having. the shot is supposed to have its best effect after 48 - 72 hours. that was right on, too, as it was about 2 days before i felt much better.

the worst part about this whole thing is that we didn't get to celebrate the holidays like we normally do -- no christmas tree, no cookies to decorate, no gingerbread houses, no christmas shopping, no gifts, no precious moments chapel and vietnamese lights trip, no shopping at the plaza and other kc favorites, no valuable family time w/ the kids.

it was horrible. christmas is my favorite time of the year, and i so love to do all those activities w/ my family. this year, we had none of those memories together. i couldn't hold riahna, i couldn't hold/hug/lift raven, i couldn't do all the things that are so important to me. i couldn't even spend time w/ my family at all b/c i was just in too much pain.

we had about 2 hours of christmas shopping on the 23rd and about 2 hours on the morning of the 24th. we got gift cards for some (which i hate because it's so unoriginal) and presents for the 5 grandchildren. i just told my children that we would have our christmas for them in a few days.

i don't think anyone truly knows how miserable i was during that time, but it did give me plenty of time to come up w/ a list of things i'm going to work on and/or accomplish this year. that time of "thinking" also gave me some new ideas and more inspiration for some ideas that i already had.

so, summer (my daughter -- the pollyanna in the family), if i had to find a "bright side" to this situation, it would be that i have a much deeper appreciation for living and much more inspiration to get some of the projects done that i've only be thinking about up to this point.

after 2 more shots to the spine (which were both uneventful as far as the vasel-vagel thing), i was well on my way to recovery. now we'll see how everything else goes! i certainly have a new understanding and respect for those people who have serious back injuries.

and to those people who offered such consoling words as "well, there will be another christmas next year . . . ". you have NO IDEA of what i missed this year. never again will riahna have a 1st christmas and never can i replace that time and the memories that i didn't get to make w/ my family.

yeah, there will be another christmas next year -- and i'll be doing the holidays up double time to make up for what i didn't get to do this year. jerry and family better just watch out!

for you, jerry -- that means that we'll be AT the plaza on thanksgiving when the lights come on just so we can say "ahhhhh" and then load up in the car and head toward the hotel! for you grown kids -- that means we'll be spoiling the little kids w/ as many activities as possible!!!


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your ordeal with your pinched nerve. I can sympathize as I have hurt my back, and now have found out I have possible fibromyalgia, whatever that can mean. I hate it, it hurts all the time. I can hardly remember a time when there was no pain. It's no fun is it? It does change your perspective on life, doesn't it?

Take care and hope you are doing better

Warren Bunch said...

Well, on the bright side.... Raven has a much greater appreciation for her Memaw and chase-n-hug!!!

Anonymous said...

i just can't wait for thanksgiving weekend. we get to go see the wonderful lights, again. to get to say "ahhhhhhh" and then go to the hotel. oh what a man will do for his loving wife.
love mr. wonderful